Twilight of the Thunder God
Typical Amon Amarth, but they've found a damn good recipe
The gods of Valhalla continue to inspire a Viking-fleets worth of bands, but their flagship outfit has got to be Amon Amarth; and their dedication to their deities' desire to divulge Norse tales of old has not deviated. 2008 sees the band releasing their seventh studio ode, Twilight of the Thunder God, to the helmed masses of heavy metal fans eager to eat this stuff up.
Well, what do you get from this well-established Metal Blade act seven albums in? For starters, with the exception of a drummer change and the addition of a second guitarist between the first and second releases, you have the same lineup. That in itself is a feat; bands these days rarely able to keep a stable roster of players beyond one or two core guys (or gals). So, from a consistent lineup - all of whom seemingly have dedicated their lives to the reawakening of pagan beliefs - you get a consistent output of musical fare.
Now, there are valid arguments on both sides of the fence when it comes to a band finding its sound and "playing it safe", in other words, being consistent. We've all heard ‘em ballied about on countless blogs, forums, etc. to the ninth degree (or level of hell!?), and this release has already respawned said debates. Truthfully, there are few bands I do not find fault with for playing it safe and Amon Amarth is one of them.
Ok, if you're new to these guys and their Norse-themed melodic death metal, or have lost touch with what's been going on with them for the last ten years or so, what you're getting here in Twilight of the Thunder God is the definition of consistency. But when you hear music crafted this damn well and engaging, why care whether there has or hasn't been any progression or change since the "Golden Hall" debut?
Before you get hung up on there being no "change" in their sound, you really need to hear their progression from album to album. They've continued to tweak little things along the way, vocalist Johan Hegg's singing being a good example. He just gets better with every release, and for those who complain about death metal vocals being indecipherable, you won't have that problem here, as he tends to emphatically pronounce the lyrics despite being belched forth from the fires of a smithy's forge. Also, the production keeps getting better as well, as with their popularity continually on the rise the band is afforded more time and money to finely fashion their final studio mix. Then there are the riffs. Despite having so many releases, they just keep coming up with great, melodic inflections to build songs upon. Ultimately, they refine themselves just a bit with every release.
To sum up, yes, for all intents and purposes, you're getting more of the typical Amon Amarth, but they've found a damn good recipe that works and they're sticking with it. To throw out a typical fan forum argument, "look what happened when Coca-Cola tried to change their formula!"